Over the years I’ve tried so many different diets and ‘eating plans’…

From the crash Cabbage Soup Diet to the Atkins Diet both worked like a charm in the weight-loss department it my 20’s but seemed like such unnatural and unsustainable ways to eat. I tried simply following the Canada Food Guide for awhile which encouraged a nice variety of the food groups but the numbers of servings seemed so skewed. Most recently I did the Whole 30 challenge which had me feeling better than ever but I struggled to figure out how to parlay it into a long term way of eating.

And so here I am with little snippets of how to eat ‘healthy’ and feeling unsure about the best way to put it all together. I know I need to eat to fuel all of my running but I want what I eat to feel natural and be something I don’t have to think about too hard because otherwise it will be too much work to maintain.

Since I don’t have it quite figured out I jumped at the chance to sit down with the Powered By Chocolate Milk dietician at Fortius Sports & Health in Burnaby, BC. Ashley Charlebois is a Registered Dietician and CFEP Certified Exercise Physiologist who works with everyone from recreational to national level athletes. She is part of an integrated team of sport and exercise medicine practitioners whose goal is to deliver customized treatment and training plans to maximize recovery and optimize performance. 
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a first consultation so we started with me explaining what I eat on a typical day and laying out what I do for exercise throughout the week. From there we jumped into a detailed conversation about what my nutritional needs are based on my lifestyle and how or if what I’m eating is meeting those needs. We decided to take the next step and have her complete a custom nutrition plan for me so I’m busy pulling together more detailed information for her to work with.
Over the years I’ve read so much literature about food and diet but it all makes so much more sense when you’re having a conversation directly with someone who can explain it all in detail and relate it to your own lifestyle and eating habits. I learned so much from our meeting but there were a few takeaways that helped demystify nutrition, and in particular how it relates to exercise and recovery, so I thought in the meantime I’d share those with you…
1. Canadians need more Vitamin D. Ashley explained that current research suggests Vitamin D absorption is actually dependent on the angle at which the sun hits your skin. Apparently our geographic position up here in Canada limits our actual Vitamin D intake, so 1,000-2,000 IU/day (for adults) is a beneficial dietary supplement. Children beyond the infant stage would also benefit from added Vitamin D, although in much lower doses.
2. The 30-minute recovery window. We’ve all been told to refuel within the first 30 minutes after a hard workout but I never really took the time to understand why. Ashley explained that our bodies absorb glucose and store it as glycogen at it’s fastest rate within those first 30 minutes. Refuelling during that timeframe is therefore our most efficient way to start preparing our bodies and building our glycogen stores for the next workout.
3. The chocolate makes a difference! I know that chocolate milk is a good choice for recovery because it contains a mix of carbohydrates, electrolytes and protein but I always wondered if the chocolate part mattered. Indeed it does, the sugar in the chocolate gives chocolate milk a better ratio of carbohydrates than regular milk however, if the brown stuff isn’t available, regular milk and a piece of fruit is a good substitute.
4. Why we recover with protein. I think when many of us hear the word ‘protein’ we think of muscle building and repair, however, that’s not exactly why we need it in recovery. A little bit of protein will encourage the release of insulin which in turn helps with the absorption of carbohydrates. We want to help our bodies absorb those carbs as easily as possible so that we can build up our energy stores and be ready for the next workout.
5. Keep those carbs topped up! One of the questions I wanted to ask Ashley was what her thoughts were in regards to carb-loading and when and how to do it. Her answer made so much sense to me. She suggested that for an athlete, your typical diet should already include enough carbohydrates to fuel your daily exercise and energy needs. If you’re being careful to refuel properly there’s no reason to be at a deficit and therefore a big push to carb-load shouldn’t really be necessary. 
We covered a lot of ground in our first session and these are just some of the things I learned that are helping me make sense of how to eat, how to fuel properly and how to recover optimally for my own running lifestyle. I’m excited to meet again and learn more about my own specific needs and look forward to sharing what I’ve learned!
Have you ever had the chance to chat with a dietician? How would you best describe the way you eat?

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  1. Stan (    

    Great post…I remember trying the Cabbage Soup diet once…I was going nuts by day 4. One of the worst weeks of my life! :) Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jane    

    A very helpful post! I have heard we should refuel,within 30 minutes but I’ve never really understood why and I’ve therefore only haphazardly done it. But I think I will make it more of a priority one, especially when training!

  3. jillconyers    

    I would love the opportunity to talk to a dietician that specializes in vegetarian nutrition. Great info!

    Thanks for linking up with Fitness Friday :)

  4. Abby    

    I am working on eating healthier, better portions, less binging.

  5. Tina @GottaRunNow    

    What an informative post! I think it’s great that milk needs chocolate, in this case! I look forward to seeing what else you learn from the dietician.

  6. terryruns    

    My mom is a dietitian, so I grew up with a lot of this :) I eat healthy whole foods as often as I can, but whatever I want the rest of the time. I don’t stress the small stuff, and don’t count anything :)

  7. Amanda RunToTheFinish    

    Wow great session! I feel like I am always learning new things and incorporating them…it’s forever a learning experience, but I agree it should feel more natural than hard!

  8. Jennifer Closs    

    I used to get horribly nauseous after long runs. Finally I realized that not only was my fueling and hydration while running totally inadequate, but that eating and drinking needed to happen immediately post-run to avoid feeling awful. I never did find the perfect combo, so I’ll have to give chocolate milk a try!

  9. Megan Tenney    

    Interesting info. I’m taking a year off from sugar, but I will definitely do the “chocolate milk refuel” in the future. I recently started a “Shaping Up For Summer” link-up, which will run every Saturday through May, and I would LOVE it if you wanted to link up your fitness posts. Hope to see you there!

  10. Petti    

    I did the cabbage soup diet before too. It works (kinda) before but can’t even try again now. I guess I will be black out on the 2nd day!

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